Charles Francis Richter (/?r?kt?r/); April 26, 1900 – September 30, 1985) was an American seismologist and physicist.
Richter is most famous as the creator of the Richter magnitude scale, which, until the development of the moment magnitude scale in 1979, quantified the size of earthquakes. Inspired by Kiyoo Wadati's 1928 paper on shallow and deep earthquakes, Richter first used the scale in 1935 after developing it in collaboration with Beno Gutenberg; both worked at the California Institute of Technology.
The quote "logarithmic plots are a device of the devil" is attributed to Richter.
Richter was an active and avowed naturist. He travelled to many nudist communities with his wife.
Hough 2007, p. 152 states Richter was an atheist, but she also quotes a Robert Kaufman's letter to the New York Times which stated that Richter was a member of Kaufman's congregation.
At his retirement party, a group of colleagues at Caltech, called the "Quidnuncs," played and sang a ditty titled "Richter Scale," which gave examples of earthquakes in American history, told in ballad style. Richter was initially shy about the song, thinking it demeaned science. However, the author of the song, Kent Clark, stated in a 1989 interview that eventually Richter enjoyed the song.
Richter died of congestive heart failure on September 30, 1985 in Pasadena, California. He is buried in Altadena, California's Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum.